Keeping Your Shower Drain Clean: How to Prevent Clogs in Bathtub and Shower Drains and Clear Minor Blockages
A clogged shower or bathtub drain can be extremely frustrating. Learn about the common causes of shower drain blockages and how to prevent them with a few simple precautions. If you already have a clog, there are a few simple methods you can use keep your shower drain running smoothly. By maintaining your bathroom drains, you can prevent costly sewer line and water damage problems down the road.
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Common Causes of Blockages
Hair: Hair is one of the most common causes of clogs in shower and bathtub drains. Although you might expect hair to flow smoothly down the drain, the opposite is true. Hair often becomes tangled, acting like a net. This can lead to a build-up of more hair and even soap particles in your drain pipes.
Unintended Items: After hair, the most common thing to clog a shower drain are items accidentally sent down the drain. Soap and shampoo bottle caps, parts to razors, and kids toys are the most common, but anything has the potential for causing a clog.
Soap: While soap does dissolve in water, using too much soap or not allowing it to flush completely down your drains can lead to build-ups. It can form stubborn deposits as it dries, especially if there are already small clogs from hair or other items. The soap will cling to those items eventually causing a complete blockage.
Preventing Shower Drain Clogs
Install a Hair Catcher: Adding a mesh hair catcher to your drain is another easy and inexpensive way to keep your shower drain clear. Make sure to clean out the hair catcher after each shower or bath to prevent buildups in the drain. Dispose of all hair in the trash. Over time, the mesh hair catcher may become dirty. You can clean the hair catcher by soaking in equal parts vinegar and baking soda. Reuse dryer sheets as an additional layer of drain protection. They make clean up a cinch too. Plus, a hair catcher will keep unintended items from going down the drain too.
Brush Your Hair Before Showering: By brushing your hair before showering, you’ll remove most of the loose hairs and help keep your drains flowing smoothly. This will make your hair catcher more effective too by limiting the amount of hair in the tub.
Wash Pets Outside: When it comes to bathing your pets, do it outside whenever possible. When you do need to wash pets inside, brush them first and cover drains with a washcloth to catch as much hair as possible. Use a utility sink with a washcloth over the drain if possible. Another option is to use a dedicated pet wash tub to contain hair. You can then drain the tube through a mesh strainer and dispose of the hair in the trash.
Flush Drains With Hot Water: As much as we all like a hot shower, your bath water is rarely hot enough to dissolve soap build-ups. Flushing drains with near boiling water every few weeks will keep drains running smoothly. While you can adjust the temperature on your water heater, it’s safer and faster to boil water in your kitchen. Pouring a few quarts of water to a boiling water down the shower drain will help flush clogs.
Clearing Clogged Bath Drains
Plunger: The plunger isn’t just for the toilet. Plungers may see low tech, but they are one of the best tools for resolving small clogs. They create upward suction and downward pressure that helps to loosen clogs and flush them down the drain. It’s important that you form a good seal between the plunger and the drain. Apply petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger if you can’t get a good seal around the drain. Plunge until the drain runs smoothly.
Vinegar and Baking Soda Rinse: While we don’t recommend using chemical drain cleaners for several reasons, the foaming action of a vinegar and baking soda rinse will help to clear a drain clog. Pour half a cup each of baking soda and vinegar down your drain, then rinse with hot water afterword. As little as a few minutes will be effective, but you could let it sit all day while you’re at work.
Drain Snake: A drain snake is a coiled metal wire that you feed down the drain to clear obstructions. To snake your shower drain, enter through the overflow drain and run until your drain is clear. If you don’t have a drain snake, you can use an old wire hanger too. Just straighten it out and bend a hook into one end. Fish the hooked end down your drain and pull out the clog.
If you shower or bathtub is still clogged after trying the above steps, we recommend that you contact a professional plumber. Without proper attention, a shower drain clog may cause costly sewer line problems in the future. A plumber will be able to quickly locate and resolve the problem, saving you time and preventing costly plumbing, sewage cleanup, or water damage repairs in the future.
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